Reducing risks to water through improved slug pellet formation

Reducing risks to water through improved slug pellet formation

Published On 08/06/2023

UKWIR has recently completed a project under big Question 4 - How do we achieve 100% compliance with drinking water standards by 2050?, which aimed to access the potential of combining inorganic controlled release formulation (iCRT) with a metaldehyde-based slug pellets, as a way of reducing the pesticide leaching into water courses.

Metaldehyde is a molluscicide that is often used in slug pellets. If metaldehyde enters watercourses, it can result in disruption of water abstraction to treatment works and reservoirs in order to protect drinking water quality. The output and conclusions for this research can be utilised way water companies to help with their catchment management strategies, and in discussions with the agricultural community.

What we did

The project comprised research funded by UKWIR alongside research funded by IAFRI (a joint venture between Newcastle University and Fera Science Ltd). Using the grey field slug – the most common pest in the UK - the project aimed to assess different slug baits by recording slug foraging behaviour; assess the leaching of active ingredients, and then produce a comparative economic model for use of developed molluscicides against all commercial alternatives in agriculture.

What we found and recommended

The project team found iCRT formulations were not palatable to slugs as it did not mask the presence of metaldehyde. In addition, in leeching tests the iCRT formulations did not prevent metaldehyde loss to soil water. Further research is therefore recommended into iCRT technology for other applications regarding potential agrochemicals or micro-pollutants that couldinfluence water quality. The report recommends further research is needed into using ferric phosphate (FP) to optimise slug control as it is unlikely to affect water quality.

For more information on the full report- Improved slug pellet formulation to reduce risks to water (23/DW/14/16) - visit our Publications page